There is a wide spread misconception about what it means to have the ‘university experience’. Many people assume that it is all about the late nights spent drinking and/or rushing through an essay that’s due the next morning. But, I don’t think that that’s necessarily the case, as there is no such thing as a single set standard university experience to be had.
Many of us fall into the trap of doing the stereotypical things which are expected of us as students. But that’s where we need to stop and realise that the university experience is not what others expect of us to make of it but what we choose to make of it. I know when I started university two years ago, I thought that drinking is all that there was to university life and experience. But now, at the end of my second year, I’ve realised that that is most definitely not the case. For me the university experience is all about discovering and trying new things as well as mixing with people from diverse backgrounds and thereby broadening one’s horizons.
So, here is my take and thoughts on what it is to have the university experience:
Learning to be a responsible young adult
One of the main and overlooked aspects of the university experience is learning to be an independent and responsible young adult. As most of us leave our parents’ home to live on our own in a new city, we are also faced with a new-found responsibility of fully caring for ourselves. From doing the grocery shopping, to managing the play and studying time to arranging that skype call with your best friend to getting around to finally making that GP appointment. So, with this new-found responsibility we begin to learn more about what it is like to be in the ‘adult’ world, as well as learning about and improving some crucial life skills like time management and self-care, to name a few.
Getting involved and trying new things
The fun part about university life and experience is getting to try out things that are perhaps out of our comfort zone. For example, you can join a sports team even if you’re not particularly good at sports but you want to get better and be more active. Or you can perhaps join Forge Radio and present a show to help with boosting your confidence as well as making friends. Basically, university experience includes the societies and activates that you take part in and the skills that you learn from them as well as the memories and friends that you make.
Making new friends
This one may be an obvious one but nevertheless it should be highlighted. The people that you meet during your university time are the ones that can make your time at the university that much better. But, also the people that you meet at the university from students to members of staff are what makes the university experience that much more unique and special with the university having such diverse groups of people from all backgrounds, countries, walks of life and all with interesting stories to tell and learn from.
Going out probably more than you should
Yes, we’ve all fallen for this one. The dreaded playing hard instead of working harder! But, then again what’s university life without a night out about town which may or may not involve drinking, whatever floats your boat. I think, like many other students, I have struggled and still do struggle with balancing my work load with my social life, as going to a gig will always be more appealing than sitting down to read 50-page chapter on political philosophy.
In summary, the university experience means a lot of different things for different people and that’s okay but the main thing here is to enjoy it.